Sexual health is often a hush-hush topic, but it remains an important part of mental and physical well-being. While proper nutrition is key for overall health in this area, it’s always nice to know we can get a little boost if we want it. Viagra has been the mainstream drug of choice, but the side effects are many, and the long-term ones still unknown.
There are a lot of foods touted as aphrodisiacs, and it can be hard to separate the substance from the hype. While many foods and supplements can benefit a person’s libido, the effects often only show in the long-term, and only slightly at best. The list below covers the major food substances and supplements that can most potently provide that more immediate “oomph” we’re all sometimes looking for, without the need for a prescription.
- Muira Puama: Often called “potency wood,” muira puama is a bark originating in Brazil, that can be taken in powdered or liquid extract form. It’s generally not taken for any other purpose than sexual virility, and so it’s truly a libido-enhancer. The effects can usually be felt the same day (or night). The dosage is up to you, within reason. A couple tablespoons of the powdered form can be sufficient for most people—that’s more than the typical suggested serving size, but I’ve found that that amount is what works best.
- Maca: Maca is an adaptogenic cruciferous root that’s not only rich in nutrients, but has the ability to balance hormones and stimulate libido in men and women. It’s best taken on alternate days, as taking it on a daily basis can dull its effects over time. Maca can take a little longer than the other ones to show visible benefits, but by longer I mean only a few days to a few weeks depending on the person, and the upside is the benefits are more sustainable. Two to three tablespoons per day of the powdered form is a common serving size. For some, the raw form is too hard on the stomach; in that case, try the gelatinized powder form.
- Damiana: Damiana is an herb native to North America used most commonly as an aphrodisiac, for sexual stimulation and the treatment of both impotence and menstrual problems. Its ability to restore desire and libido made it popular among native Mexicans for centuries, and it’s often been credited for helping women regain their ability to orgasm. A commonly used serving size has been three to four grams of the powdered form per day.
- Tongkat Ali: Tongkat ali, often called Long Jack, or erycoma longifolia, is an herb more often geared to men, and has the ability to balance hormones and stimulate testosterone production and male fertility. Dosages of even 800mg to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight have shown the most pronounced effects of libido improvement, though that amount is not necessary. Two to three tablespoons per day of the powdered form for most people should be more than sufficient for very noticeable effects. However, the effects generally require one to three weeks of daily consumption to bear fruit.
- Tribulus: Tribulus, or tribulus terrestris, is another herb geared towards males that has proven to increase testosterone production and male fertility. 1 to 3 grams per day is sufficient for most people, and in general, it does tend to take a couple weeks to notice the difference.
- Horny Goat Weed/Epimedium: A prized herb in Chinese medicine, its name says it all. It’s celebrated for its ability to support sexual vitality in both men and women, and while it can take one to two weeks to work for many people, for some, it can begin to bear its namesake in as little as 20 to 40 minutes. One gram per day of a standardized extract is sufficient for most people, though it may take two or three grams for others.
- Catuaba: Catuaba bark has been used by both men and women not only to enhance libido physically, in men by allowing more blood flow to the groin area, but also to enhance actual sexual enjoyment by increasing dopamine-sensitivity in the brain, causing intimacy to be a more pleasurable experience. Many people find three to four grams of the powdered form per day to be a sufficient amount to take.
- L-Arginine: Arginine is not an herb but a non-essential amino acid that stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can be a key libido enhancer for men. While lower amounts like two grams can work, for most, at least five to seven grams per day or more is needed for noticeable benefit. The effects are generally visible the same day.
- Zinc: Also not an herb, zinc is a critical mineral for reproductive health, specifically for the manufacture of testosterone. Oysters are only known as an aphrodisiac primarily for their high zinc content. While zinc has tended to be emphasized more for male health, it’s also important for female health, and specifically reproductive health. Women need testosterone too for sexual virility, and a lack of it can lead not only to libido problems, but emotional instability as well.
Each of these are well-researched, safe, and generally without side effects for short and long-term use. While none of these can take the place of a healthy reproductive system nourished by diet and nutrition, they can be useful and fun to have around to try when the mood strikes.